Robinson Cano's inaugural trip back to New York will include more than one first. Consider: It's his first time wearing another team's uniform in Yankee Stadium, and his first chance to show off the well-manicured beard he's grown since he signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners last offseason.
Also, the former Yankee has never been inside the visitor's clubhouse, but he's pretty sure there's a front office where he can ask directions if he gets lost.
"Going back and playing for the first time against them, like I said, it's going to feel weird," the Mariners second baseman said earlier this week.
Cano isn't worried about the reception Yankees fans give him when he steps to the plate for the first time in a Mariners uniform tonight when Seattle and the Yankees open a three-game series in the Bronx. Actually, he's excited. It might even get emotional.
"[I'm] just looking forward to going there, and now I'm obviously on the opposite team … and hopefully I'll be treated nice by the fans," Cano said. "Just looking forward to going back and playing on the field that I first came up [on] as a young kid and what I learned as I grew up and see teammates, especially a guy like Jeter in his last year."
Cano spent his first nine Major League seasons with the Yankees, posting a .309/.355/.504 power line and making five All-Star teams. But when he became a free agent, Cano and the Yankees couldn't agree on a new contract, and the Mariners capitalized by landing arguably the most prized hitter on the market.
"Well, I don't want to blame anybody," Cano said of his decision to leave New York.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon initially tried to downplay the significance of Cano returning before admitting, that yes, facing a former team can mean more for some players. For Cano, it's important because he'll get to see friends and family.
"It will probably be a little different, but it's our job to control the atmosphere and his access and that's what we'll do -- just like we protect all of our players to a certain extent," McClendon said. "You only have so much access to them and after that they got to get ready to play baseball."
"I think everybody's different but you're going to have emotions -- some of them are going to be mixed -- but you want to do well against your old team."
Yankees: Jeter looking for a different sort of payback
Derek Jeter understood when Cano opted to leave the Yankees in the offseason. Baseball is, after all, a business.
"Sometimes people lose sight of that," Jeter said. "It's not too often guys get an opportunity -- in any sport -- to play with one team their entire career … as much as people would like to see guys stay with one particular team, it doesn't always happen."
Still, given that it's his last year in the MLB, the legendary shortstop wouldn't mind if his longtime (and well-compensated) friend somehow paid him back.
"Considering I've paid for him to eat for however many years he was here, he owes me a lot," Jeter joked. "I'm upset I don't get to collect."
Mariners: Chris Young takes on Sabathia
With preseason injuries to pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijaun Walker, and the loss of James Paxton in early April to a lat strain, Seattle has needed multiple pitchers to step up to preserve the back of the rotation. They found one when they signed right-hander Chris Young to a one-year contract in late March.
His value will be tested when he opposes C.C. Sabathia (3-2, 4.78 ERA) and a potent Yankees lineup. In three starts since moving out of the bullpen, Young is 0-0 with a 3.50 ERA. Not bad considering he didn't pitch in the big leagues last season following a pair of shoulder surgeries and an operation to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, which affects the nerves near the collarbone, creating pain in the shoulders and neck.
"He's a veteran presence. He knows what he's doing out there," McClendon said. "I think he's over the hump from a physical standpoint now, and I would suspect that his outings will get better and better each time out."
• After trailing 5-0 to the Rangers on Sunday, the Mariners mounted their biggest comeback of the season on their way to a 6-5 win behind two late Kyle Seager home runs. Seager has a career-high five homers in April.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.